BOOK REVIEW: The Secret Years by Barbara Hannay (Review from Hayley Shephard)

From London to Tobruk to Australia to New Britain to Cornwall to Australia and then back to Cornwall and back to Australia again, The Secret Years follows a difficult yet heart-warming journeythe-secret-years that spans years and continents.

After an intriguing prologue we are introduced to Lucy, a soldier on a return flight from Afghanistan heading home to Townsville. She hopes to start planning her wedding but after arriving her fiancé changes her mind; he can’t handle her job with the army while he has – for all intents and purposes – a desk job. That’s not the end of it as her mother, who has jumped from one rocky relationship to the next her entire life, has moved in with a man who this time around seems perfect; and that makes her all the more nervous about messing it up.

Lucy’s mother’s uncomfortable (to say the least) relationship with her own father has overshadowed her entire life, with secrets left untold.

Lucy finds an old letter with a photograph of a stunning young woman who turns out to be Lucy’s grandmother, affectionately called George. The letter could help uncover the secrets from the past and from her Mother’s reaction to the letter, Lucy discovers it won’t be easy playing detective. So Lucy sets off to England where it all started; during WWII her Grandfather fell head-over-heels in love with George, a beautiful aristocratic English woman who in turn loved him immeasurably.

While there Lucy finds out things that help set the record straight. We find out why her grandfather sent her own mother back there when she was a child after George had died. Why she was taken from the family’s home in outback Queensland?

Sorry, I have to stop typing out the entire plot; it was just such an awesome read.

Now focus!

The whole story brought tears to my eyes, particularly towards the end of the book.

I loved how she portrayed her female characters. Lucy, her mother and grandmother are strong women who love fiercely.

Barbara Hannay’s descriptions of the surrounding landscapes are also stunning. You feel the heat of Queensland and the bitterly yet magical cold weather of Cornwall.

But what I think I loved most about this story was how easy it was to relate to, how universal the themes are. Everyone experiences heartbreak and regret, and forgiveness is truly a powerful wake-up call…

Grab your copy of The Secret Years here


the-secret-yearsThe Secret Years – Signed Copies Available!*

by Barbara Hannay

For a limited time only, order The Secret Years and you will receive a signed copy. *Offer available while stocks last.

When Lucy Hunter stumbles upon her grandfather Harry’s World War II memorabilia, she finds a faded photograph of a stunning young woman known simply as ‘George’ and a series of heartfelt letters. They are clues about the secret years, a period of Lucy’s family history that has been kept a mystery . . . until now.

How did a cattleman from north Queensland find forbidden love with the Honourable Georgina Lenton of London and persuade her to move to his isolated outback property? And why are the effects of this encounter still reverberating in the lives of Lucy and her mother, Rose, now? As the passions of the past trickle more…

Grab your copy of The Secret Years here

Fiona Palmer talks to Booktopia TV about her new book, The Saddler Boys!

Bestselling Australian rural author Fiona Palmer talks to us about her new novel The Saddler Boys. And for the lucky that get in quick, they’ll receive a signed copy!

For a limited time only, order The Saddler Boys and you will receive a signed copy. Offer available while stocks last.


The Saddler Boys

Fiona Palmer

the-saddler-boysSchool teacher Natalie has always been a city girl. She has a handsome boyfriend and a family who give her only the best. But she craves her own space, and her own classroom, before settling down into the life she is expected to lead.

When Nat takes up a posting at a tiny school in remote Western Australia, it proves quite the culture shock, but she is soon welcomed by the inquisitive locals, particularly young student Billy and his intriguing single father, Drew.

As Nat’s school comes under threat of closure, and Billy’s estranged mother turns up out of the blue, Nat finds herself fighting for the township and battling with her heart. Torn between her society … Read more

For a limited time only, order The Saddler Boys and you will receive a signed copy. Offer available while stocks last.

GUEST BLOG: Bestselling author Barbara Hannay on the Writing Process

When I was first published, a wise and experienced author told me, ‘You’re only as good as your last book.’ It was a warning I took to heart and it has led me, inevitably, to taking on new challenges.

Pic-BarbHannay-rurowebAfter writing more than forty contemporary romances, my two most recent books, Moonlight Plains and The Secret Years, are intergenerational stories that combine a contemporary story with a historical thread set during World War 2. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the historical research, as well as trying to capture the speech patterns and atmosphere of another era.

It isn’t just the historical element of dual time lines that excites me, however. These more complex books provide extra opportunities for character development and for deeper themes. I’ve been able, for example, to explore the long-lasting impact of a decision made by a character in the past on his descendants. These “double” plots have also provided extra opportunities for secrets and surprises – devices that make commercial fiction hum.

Probably the biggest challenge of a dual time line is getting the right balance. It’s important to make sure that one story isn’t much more interesting than the other. Both stories need to be compelling. It’s important to create two sets of characters that the reader cares about. Both heroes (or heroines) need to follow an important emotional journey.

Interesting events need to take place in both time lines to move both plots forward. The central character in each story will have separate problems to overcome. Each story will have its own rising action, climax and resolution and there will probably be a significant point where the stories intersect, usually towards the end.

I’ve never been one for strict writing rules, though, and I know each writer will approach this challenge differently. Some authors like to write the two stories separately, so they have complete control over each plot. Then they work out how, where and when to interweave them.

the-secret-yearsThis is fine, but I prefer to do the weaving as I write. I enjoy the organic flow. Whichever way you approach this task, working out how long to stay in one time zone before switching to the other can be tricky. I’ve judged this intuitively, rather than by any hard and fast rule, but I know from my experience as a reader that I’m annoyed if the ‘back-and-forth’ happens too quickly. It’s a bit like watching TV with a channel surfer. You’re just getting interested in a show, when you’re suddenly whisked to a completely different story.

For this reason, I think it’s possibly better to give approximately equal weight to each story and to allow a chapter or two in each time period before making a change. You need enough time to develop important action and intrigue in one story and to allow the reader to become immersed in the characters and the setting, before whisking her back to another time zone.

To help the transition, I think it’s also worth dropping a hint, to subtly warn readers that a time switch is coming. This is possibly easier in intergenerational stories, as the contemporary characters usually know the historical characters (often grandparents) and some kind of linking reference can be made. A question, a supposition…

Objects like photographs, diaries and memorabilia also make useful symbolic links. Studying the way movies make similar shifts can also be useful. How many times have we watched a door close on one scene in a movie only to open on a completely different set of characters? One character goes to sleep. Another wakes up…

Despite the risks of dual time lines, I think it’s a challenge worth trying. As your story reveals extra, unexpected layers, you’re in for an exciting ride and your readers will be, too.

Grab a copy of Barbara’s new novel The Secret Years here

the-secret-yearsThe Secret Years

by Barbara Hannay

Some family secrets are best set free.

When Lucy Hunter stumbles upon her grandfather Harry’s World War II memorabilia, she finds a faded photograph of a stunning young woman known simply as ‘George’ and a series of heartfelt letters. They are clues about the secret years, a period of Lucy’s family history that has been kept a mystery . . . until now.

How did a cattleman from north Queensland find forbidden love with the Honourable Georgina Lenton of London and persuade her to move to his isolated outback property? And why are the effects of this encounter still reverberating in the lives of Lucy and her mother, Rose, now?

As the passions of the past trickle down the years, three generations of one family pull together. Each must learn in their own way how true love can conquer the greatest challenges of all.

From the wild beauty of the Australian bush to England’s rugged south coast, this is a deeply moving story of heartbreak, heroism and homecoming by a beloved, multi-award-winning author.

Grab a copy of Barbara’s new novel The Secret Years here

Claire Varley, author of The Bit in Between, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Claire Varley

author of The Bit in Between

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

Born in Geelong, raised on the Bellarine Peninsula and schooled in the art of wit and one-liners that don’t quite deliver. Geelong is great; it is a pilot city of the NDIS and directly elected mayors, and when I was growing up it had a zedonk farm.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

When I was twelve I wanted to be fourteen because that’s how old the babysitters of the Babysitter’s Club were. In my head fourteen was a magical age when you were given responsibilities beyond your years and did exciting things like solve pet-napping mysteries and move to California when your parents got divorced and your dad remarried a younger woman named Carol.

When I was eighteen I wanted to be someone who lived in a house with heating because I spent my winter wandering around my sharehouse wearing a doona-muu-muu and feeling sad that I had dragon breath inside the house. But I acknowledged that alongside drowning with a book of Keats’ poems in your pocket, such is the life of a would-be writer.

I am currently 29 and hope, at thirty, to be a) still alive, b) wiser and c) David Sedaris.

Author: Claire Varley

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

That living in a house with heating meant I had made it.

Also, that skirts and dresses would never be a part of my wardrobe. For some reason my brothers and I have a thing about always dressing in a way that is conducive to suddenly having to run away from something. It’s as if we were conditioned from childhood for an imminent zombie apocalypse. Now, having realised I am not particularly agile or swift, I wear skirts a lot more.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

Terry Pratchett taught me that laughter is the best teacher of both compassion and sadness. I revisit Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas every year to remind myself what perfection is. And Solveig’s Song by Edvard Grieg is my go to song for when I need to remember the value of stillness and silence within my work. And when I need the confidence to kill my darlings.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel? 

Because I legitimately have no talent in any other field. See self-portrait below.

sg

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

The Bit In Between is my debut novel. It’s an awkward love story about Oliver and Alison, two young Australians, who have landed in the Solomon Islands looking for their truths. Oliver is writing his second novel and as they settle into island life coincidences start to happen that make him question how much life is influencing his book, and vice versa.

Grab a copy of Claire’s new book The Bit in Between here

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

At its heart it is a story of people, love, life, the paths we choose, and those we don’t. I hope it makes people laugh, then cry, then laugh again and feel guilty for laughing so soon after they cried. As David Foster Wallace said, ‘good writing helps readers become less alone inside’, and I do so hope it does this.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

When I sit down at my computer I say to myself, ‘pretend you are the love child of Zadie Smith and Steve Toltz and you have been given the task to write!’ Zadie Smith’s ability to capture people is breathtaking and in A Fraction of the Whole Steve Toltz, to me, created the perfect novel. And reading the first page of Under Milk Wood makes me rage against the genius of Dylan Thomas’s mastery of language.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

My bar is so low – see aforementioned home heating goal. Obviously I would like total global literary domination and to see a statue of myself erected outside the Westfield in Geelong in the manner of Hans Christian Anderson in Central Park, but in lieu of this, I’d be perfectly happy to continue to have opportunities to tell stories that make people happy, sad and content.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Read books, buy books, love books and never let anyone tell you to stop buying them because you have too many and the house has become a firetrap.

Write lots – for others and for yourself – because like any skill you need to practice.

When people tell you that no one makes a living from writing anymore, point out that no one has ever really made a living from writing, then go home, put on your doona-muu-muu and write until your heart sings.

Claire, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of The Bit in Between here


The Bit in Between

by Claire Varley

Writing a love story is a lot easier than living one.

There are seven billion people in the world. This is the story of two of them.

After an unfortunate incident in an airport lounge involving an immovable customs officer, a full jar of sun-dried tomatoes, quite a lot of vomit, and the capricious hand of fate, Oliver meets Alison. In spite of this less than romantic start, Oliver falls in love with her.

Immediately. Inexplicably. Irrevocably.

With no other place to be, Alison follows Oliver to the Solomon Islands where he is planning to write his much-anticipated second novel. But as Oliver’s story begins to take shape, odd things start to happen and he senses there may be more hinging on his novel than the burden of expectation. As he gets deeper into the manuscript and Alison moves further away from him, Oliver finds himself clinging to a narrative that may not end with; happily ever after.

About the Author

Claire Varley grew up on the Bellarine Peninsula and lives in Melbourne. She has sold blueberries, worked in a haunted cinema, won an encouragement award for being terrible at telemarketing, taught English in rural China, and coordinated community development projects in remote Solomon Islands.

Her short stories and poems have appeared in Australian Love Stories (‘A Greek Tragedy’), Australian Love Poems (‘Beatitude’), Seizure online (‘Poll’, ‘Hallow’), page seventeen (‘Once’, ‘Hamlet, Remus and Two Guys Named Steve’), Sotto (‘in the name of’) and [Untitled] (‘The Nicholas Name’, ‘Behind Tram Lines’). The Bit In Between is her first novel.

 Grab a copy of The Bit in Between here

Eleanor Limprecht, author of Long Bay, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

long-bay

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Eleanor Limprecht

author of Long Bay

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Washington DC in the United States. My dad worked as a Foreign Service Officer in the State Department so we lived overseas (in Germany and Pakistan) and in Virginia – never anywhere for more than four years at a time. I went to university at Virginia Tech while my parents were posted to Uzbekistan. I moved to Australia when I was 24 after falling in love with an Australian I met in Italy. Later I returned to university in Australia to get my Masters and recently my Doctorate of Creative Arts in writing from UTS.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

When I was 12 I wanted to be a veterinarian. I loved animals so much that I stopped eating meat at the age of twelve (after a few years of nagging my parents). I couldn’t imagine a better job than one in which I’d get to interact with animals constantly. Of course I didn’t think about the fact that I would have to deal with blood, disease, and pet owners as well.

When I was 18 I wanted to be a park ranger. I was studying Wildlife Sciences at university. I transferred to English Literature after a few months – it only took one semester for me to realise that I would have to be proficient in science in order to major in Wildlife Science….

When I was 30 I wanted to be an author. I had been a journalist and I wanted to write fiction, because it is what I have always loved to read. I had been working on my first novel manuscript for a few years (while freelancing and giving birth to my first child). I worked on it for a few more years and it is still in a drawer. Luckily my second novel was published – What Was Left. It is the story of a woman who, after giving birth, struggles with postnatal depression and leaves her family in a search for her own father, who left when she was a child.

June-2014-26-13. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

I believed that good and evil are easily defined – easily delineated. I believed you could avoid causing suffering in the world – this was why I was a vegetarian and an animal rights activist. Now I think that there are so many grey areas, no one is immune from causing suffering, and I am far less judgmental. I think that this is something literature taught me – for every person who does some terrible thing – delve enough into their past and into their world and you can come to understand why they have done it.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. This book to me was about the power of paying attention – noticing the world around us – and how much darkness and death are as intrinsic as life and light. This book taught me there is as much beauty in death as there is in life. She writes: “…the world is actual and fringed, pierced here and there, and through and through, with the toothed conditions of time and the mysterious, coiled spring of death.” It’s a stunning book.

Joseph Cornell’s boxes. I love these assemblages and the miniature worlds they evoke, the sense of nostalgia and fragmentation that you get by juxtaposing strange things.

Charley Pride singing “Is Anybody going to San Antone” – my dad loved old country music and had this on a record compilation. I listened to it non-stop when I was about seven. I knew all of the words by heart. I was an unusual kid. What it taught me is the way just a few words can tell a heartbreaking story – and the way an image can evoke emotion. Here are the first two stanzas:

Rain dripping off the brim of my hat
It sure is cold today
Here I am walking down 66
Wish she hadn’t done me that way.

Sleeping under a table in a roadside park
A man could wake up dead
But it sure seems warmer than it did
Sleeping in our king sized bed.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel? 

Because I express myself best through writing. I become tongue-tied and self-conscious when trying to speak. I love music but I am not musically trained, and visual arts inspire me, but literature is the language I speak. I find fiction to be the natural home of truth. George Eliot said “Art is the nearest thing to life” and to me that art is the art of the novel. I love nothing more than to lose myself in a novel. I love the way it makes me look at my own life in a new light.

long-bay6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Set in Sydney in the first decade of the 1900s, Long Bay is based on the true case of a young female abortionist who was convicted of manslaughter and served out her sentence in the newly opened Long Bay Women’s Reformatory – the first of its kind in Australia. The woman, Rebecca Sinclair, was pregnant when she went to prison.

Long Bay looks at how Rebecca became involved in the burgeoning illegal abortion racket in Edwardian-era Sydney and how she was drawn into this underworld. In unadorned prose, it examines the limiting effects of poverty, the mistakes we make for love, and the bond between mother and child.

Grab a copy of Eleanor’s new book Long Bay here

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

I hope they are able to imagine a little more clearly what it was like to live in Edwardian Sydney as a woman of the working class, and why you might make choices which now we judge harshly. I hope people reflect on the novel in relation to contemporary life as well. I also want my readers to come away as well with a sense of hope – of possibility. I like dark subjects but I am still an optimist. I have a particular weakness for love stories.

the-poisonwood-bible8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

Barbara Kingsolver. She manages to be a supremely skilled writer but also someone who is concerned about the planet and food sources and social justice. Somehow she does this without preaching. She just shows it in her writing, through her intensely identifiable characters and her believable plots. But there are so many other writers I admire as well: Anne Enright, Kate Grenville, Hilary Mantel, Hannah Kent, Curtis Sittenfield, Emma O’Donoghue, Toni Morrison, William Faulkner. I could go on…

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

Mine are not so ambitious. Balance is important to me: having time to spend with my family, time to give back to my community and keep myself sane (running). So my goal is just to write the next book, I cannot see beyond that (I’ve never been very good at planning for the future).

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Not everyone is going to like your writing. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to improve – you should always be trying to improve – but you will never make everyone happy, so never let your own sense of success depend on that. Write because you love to write, not because you want to be published. But also, be persistent. Carve out uninterrupted time to write.

Eleanor, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Eleanor’s new book Long Bay here

——————————————————–

long-bayLong Bay

by Eleanor Limprecht

Set in Sydney in the first decade of the 1900s, Long Bay is based on the true case of a young female abortionist who was convicted of manslaughter and served out her sentence in the newly opened Long Bay Women’s Reformatory – the first of its kind in Australia. The woman, Rebecca Sinclair, was pregnant when she went to prison.

Long Bay looks at how Rebecca became involved in the burgeoning illegal abortion racket in Edwardian-era Sydney and how she was drawn into Donald Sinclair’s underworld.

In unadorned prose, it examines the limiting effects of poverty, the mistakes we make for love, and the bond between mother and child.

Grab a copy of Eleanor’s new book Long Bay here

Joanna Courtney, author of The Chosen Queen, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

the-chosen-queen

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Joanna Courtney

author of The Chosen Queen

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in St Andrews in Scotland, so definitely consider myself a Scot at heart even though we moved to England when I was only a few months old. Bar lots of lovely visits to grandparents over the border, I’ve been in England ever since, growing up in a village in the Midlands with my parents, and my brother and sister.

I then headed off to Cambridge University to study English literature and from there took a sideways turn into factory management, helping to run an old-fashioned textile mill in Lancashire. In my spare time, though, I was always writing and when I met my husband and gave up full time work to have children, I turned to writing to keep me sane between nappies, as well as to fulfil a lifelong dream.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

Easy – I wanted to be a writer, a writer and a writer! Why, I’m not so sure about – I just have this itch to shape the world into coherent narratives!

Joanna-Courtney-Barnden1-200x200-circle3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

I think that, in common with many eighteen year olds, I believed it was possible to create a ‘perfect life’. I now know that there’s no such thing really and you just have to make the most of everything that you do have that’s good. Right now, for me, that’s a wonderful family, a lovely cosy house and the publication of my first novel.

Becoming ‘a writer’ has been my dream all the way, so whilst it’s crazy juggling being a wife and mother with my work, I’d still say that it’s pretty perfect in a messy, wonderfully bonkers sort of way!

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

I am an avid reader and always have been so any number of books have had a strong influence on me, but my favourite is definitely Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbevilles for its rich sense of journey for poor, brave Tess.

I love music, though I’m no connoisseur and generally like it best for dancing to! One piece that did really inspire me, though, was the slightly obscure ‘Liar’s Bar’ by The Beautiful South from the 90s. I loved this song so much that I wrote a whole novel inspired by it. It hasn’t yet made the light of day but perhaps at some point I’ll be able to go back to it.

As far as art goes, I’m even less of a connoisseur than I am of music. I do, however, have this innate love of pictures with paths leading off into the horizon and as a writer that’s the way I approach my stories – as paths that are going to lead both me and, hopefully, the reader somewhere enticing.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel? 

I didn’t actually start out writing novels. For many years I published short stories. This was mainly because I was bringing up small children so only had the odd hour here and there in which to write but it was also a wonderful way to hone my writing, to find my voice, and to learn the vital skill of pleasing a targeted audience.

I’ve had over 200 short stories published in the English women’s magazines and have loved my time crafting shorter fiction but I’ve also always had a strong pull towards the novel as there is something deeply satisfying about the longer format. It gives you a chance to develop a character and really draw the reader into their world. It also offers so much scope for twists and turns and, when it comes to historical fiction, I love the space that it gives me to bring a period to life and to create a narrative that can lead a reader through a complicated set of events in a coherent and exciting way.

the-chosen-queen6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

The Chosen Queen is not just my latest but my first ever full novel and I’m so very, very pleased to see it out on the shelves. It aims to tell the tale of the time leading up to 1066 from the women’s side – a long neglected and hopefully engaging way of looking at a year of battles that shaped England’s history forever.

It’s the story of Edyth of Mercia, granddaughter of Lady Godiva, whose family were exiled to the wild Welsh court where she was married to the charismatic King Griffin of Wales. This match catapulted her into a bitter feud with England in which(in my interpretation of her story) her only allies are Earl Harold Godwinson and his handfasted wife, Lady Svana. But as 1066 dawns and Harold is forced to take the throne of England, Edyth – now a young widow – is asked to make an impossible choice that has the power to change the future of England forever…

The Chosen Queen is the first in the Queens of the Conquest trilogy, with the next two following the same period but from the viewpoint of two others – Elizaveta of Kiev, wife of Harald Hardrada, the Viking king; and Matilda of Flanders, wife of William the eventual conqueror. They will come out in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

Grab a copy of Joanna’s new book The Chosen Queen here

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

I really hope that my books will give readers a strong sense of the period leading up to 1066 and allow them to experience life back then through the pages. I also hope they might learn something that surprises them a little, but above all else, I hope that they are just able to get carried away by the heroine’s journey.

Getting the history right is very important to me and I do a lot of research to try and ensure that I do so, but above all else I want to write a good story that involves and satisfies the reader. If readers can come away feeling that they have known and loved Edyth I will be delighted.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

the-king-s-curseMy contemporary writing heroines are Elizabeth Chadwick and Philippa Gregory as they both write such well-researched, lively and gripping novels.

If I can grab readers as those two writers do, I will consider myself successful.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

I suppose I want to be a bestseller. I’d love above all else to be one of those writers whose next novel is eagerly anticipated by readers. I’d love them to rush out to buy it feeling that they can trust me to deliver a wonderful story and I intend to work very hard to achieve that.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Just write. Courses can be good, ‘how to’ books can be good, market research and reading everything that’s out there can also be good, but at the end of the day you won’t be a writer unless you write and you won’t have a book to sell unless you put your head down and start the first chapter, then the next, then the next.

There’s nothing more frightening than a blank page, so just start filling them and enjoy it!

Joanna, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of The Chosen Queen here


the-chosen-queenThe Chosen Queen

by Joanna Courtney

As a young woman in England’s royal court, Edyth, granddaughter of Lady Godiva, dreams of marrying for love. But political matches are rife while King Edward is still without an heir and the future of England is uncertain.

When Edyth’s family are exiled to the wild Welsh court, she falls in love with the charismatic King of Wales – but their romance comes at a price and she is catapulted onto the opposing side of a bitter feud with England. Edyth’s only allies are Earl Harold Godwinson and his handfasted wife, Lady Svana.

As the years pass, Edyth finds herself elevated to a position beyond even her greatest expectations. She enjoys both power and wealth but as her star rises the lines of love and duty become more blurred than she could ever have imagined. As 1066 dawns, Edyth is asked to make an impossible choice.

Her decision is one that has the power to change the future of England forever . . .

The Chosen Queen is the perfect blend of history, fast-paced plot and sweeping romance with a cast of strong female characters – an unforgettable read.

About the Author

Joanna Courtney has wanted to be a writer ever since she could read. As a child she was rarely to be seen without her head in a book and she was also quick to pick up a pen. After spending endless hours entertaining her siblings with made up stories, it was no surprise when Joanna pursued her passion for books during her time at Cambridge University – where she combined her love of English and History by specialising in Medieval Literature.

 

 Grab a copy of The Chosen Queen here

VIDEO: Amy Bloom on her new book Lucky Us

Amy Bloom is the author of three collections of stories, Where the God of Love Hangs Out, Come to Me and A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You, and two novels: Away, Love Invents Us, and now, Lucky Us.

Lucky Us

by Amy Bloom

A thrilling and resonant novel from the author of Away, about loyalty, ambition, and the pleasures and perils of family, set in 1940s America.

When Eva’s mother abandons her on Iris’s front porch, the girls don’t seem to have much in common – except, they soon discover, a father. Thrown together with no mothers to care for them and a father who could not be considered a parent, Iris and Eva become one another’s family. Iris wants to be a movie star; Eva is her sidekick. Together, they journey across 1940s America from scandal in Hollywood to the jazz clubs and golden mansions of Long Island, stumbling, cheating and loving their way through a landscape of war, betrayals and big dreams.

Grab a copy of Lucky Us here

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